Trying To Get To You

Saturday, November 22, 2008

AC/DC At MSG 11/13/08

If you had asked rock aficionados back in the 70’s what bands they thought would endure from the era, very few, if any would have put AC/DC on the list. But 35 years later, their legacy is intact, more potent and impactful across more generations than probably anyone, including the band, ever thought possible.

AC/DC work within a strain of rock that has long since diminished within the genre – rock that is about the endless good time; the hedonistic pleasures of (mainly) sex, partying and rock n’ roll, without any consequences. And it was that ethos that was in full display last Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, and it was one celebrated by a crowd seemingly looking to shed any feeling of responsibility for one night, and to remember fondly when it seemed like they didn’t have any responsibilities at all.

Opening with “Rock N’ Roll Train,” from their new album Black Ice, the band played a curiously uneven set, with pacing and song selection that didn’t quite work. New songs were sprinkled throughout the show and typical of older bands whose best albums are behind them, they served more as bathroom breaks for the crowd (who needed them).

Cliff Johnson and Malcolm Young continue to hold down the fort on bass and rhythm guitar, but drummer Phil Rudd was lagging most of the night, his force seemingly on the wane, and it was a loss for the show. Lead singer Brian Johnson’s range has narrowed and while he longer seems threatening (if he ever did), he benignly conveys the friendly lecherousness that infuses AC/DC’s aura of incorrigibility.
But of course, it’s Angus Young that’s the incorrigible one. Stepping out in his schoolboy’s uniform (one worn by more than a few people in the audience), Young strutted around the stage and ripped off those Chuck Berry meets Pete Townshend power chords that have been AC/DC’s hallmark. But the show felt curiously rote – a hollowing ritual of a band with diminishing power.

It’s predictable that most of the attendees last week would disagree with this assessment. They came to rock, and outfitted with official AC/DC light up horns, they did. It’s only rock and roll, and they like it. I just like it a bit more when it’s not only rock and roll.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't Cliff's last name Williams? Or did you mix up Brian Jonhson with Cliff Williams??